“Make Room” homelessness housing project nears completion

Brendan Rees

A new $24.9 million project transforming a City of Melbourne-owned building into a specialist homelessness accommodation in the CBD is close to opening its doors.

The building at 602 Little Bourke St will provide 50 studio apartments, allowing short-term accommodation for people, for up to 12 months, with wraparound supports onsite.

Unison Housing is delivering The Make Room project, which, alongside the council, unveiled the first completed studio on May 20, fitted with a bedroom, kitchenette and ensuite bathroom, ahead of the building’s grand opening in August.

The council has put $16.1 million towards the project with the state committing $4.8 million over two years for on-site support and specialised tenancy management.  

A range of leading philanthropic and corporate partners have also provided funding, including the Helen Macpherson Smith Trust which has pledged an additional $500,000 to the project to bring its donated total to $720,000.   

The project, which is reinvigorating a six-storey rendered brick building built in 1952, will also feature a new rooftop garden, communal areas and Indigenous plants and artwork.

Lord Mayor Sally Capp, who viewed the opening of the completed studio, said she was proud of a project that would save lives.

“Everyone deserves access to safe, secure housing and support services – and we’re doing everything we can to help break the cycle of homelessness,” Cr Capp said.


Lord Mayor Sally Capp tours a completed studio at the Make Room project in the CBD. Photos: Hanna Komissarova.


Unison Housing CEO James King said the project was an opportunity to create meaningful change amid the current housing crisis.

“Make Room exemplifies the power of collaboration between a community housing organisation, local and state government, philanthropic organisations, and the private sector,” he said.


Our partnership with cohealth ensures that Make Room goes beyond providing shelter, guiding our city’s most vulnerable toward secure long-term housing and a brighter future.


Minister for Housing Harriet Shing said partnerships ensured government investments “can go even further” and “highlight the importance of collaboration when it comes to tackling homelessness.”

Helen Macpherson Smith Trust CEO Debra Morgan praised the council and Unison Housing for their leadership and compassionate approach to addressing homelessness.

“Helen Macpherson Smith Trust is pleased to support this partnership, which will provide not only housing, but sustained support to our most vulnerable community members,” she said.

Cohealth will provide on-site wraparound social and health support services including mental health, housing, and legal supports, as well as dental, women’s health, and podiatry.        

Cohealth CEO Nicole Bartholomeusz said its services were about transforming lives “as well as a roof and four walls” because “people who are homeless need support to address the ravaging health impacts of long-term homelessness”.

The council’s health, wellbeing and belonging portfolio lead councillor Dr Olivia Ball said everyone deserved a safe place to call home.

“Cohealth does vital work every day to improve the lives of people in the City of Melbourne, and I’m delighted we’ll expand our partnership to support residents on-site at Make Room,” she said.

Individuals and organisations are encouraged to pledge their support for Make Room through the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation •

Buy our Journalists a coffee

Support our dedicated journalists with a donation to help us continue delivering high-quality, reliable news

Buy our Journalists a coffee

Buy our Journalists a coffee

Like us on Facebook